The Significance of the CCC in the US, Oregon and The USDA Forest service Hat Point Fire Lookout Tower, Imnaha Oregon
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, approximately 30% of the work force was unemployed. After his election in 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent several initiatives to Congress designed to get the country back to work. FDR was known for his accomplishments in conservation while he was Governor of the State of New York. There were several proposals at the State level to form a conservation force, and reclaim various wastelands throughout the United States. Roosevelt used the best of these and constructed a model for the Civilian Conservation Corps on a National basis.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was created as Appendix C of Public Law No. 5, (73rd Congress), and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 31, 1933. The purpose of the CCC was to give employment to young men as part of Roosevelt's recovery program for the Great Depression. From 1933 through 1942, the CCC had a total enrollment of 3,465,766 men.
The Honorable Robert Fechner was named Director of the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps. Fechner immediately named an advisory council which consisted of the Secretarys of Labor, War and Interior, each of whom appointed a personal representative to work with the new Director.
Enrollees were given room and board, uniforms, medical care and a salary of $30 per month. Of the salary, $25 was sent home as an allotment to the family of the enrollee. The enrollee retained $5 a month for personal expenses. The enrollees were first sent to an indoctrination program run by the Army. Here physical conditioning was emphasized to get the men into top condition to allow them to perform in their new active environment. The majority of these young men were city dwellers, and many had been idle since 1929. They would be assigned to high mountain forest areas as well as deserts where they would be living in tent camps and doing hard physical labor in construction and conservation work throughout the United States.
In Oregon, there were forty-nine CCC camps in 1937. Of these, eighteen were on National Forests, two on State Forests, seven on private forests, three for Biological Survey and four on the State Parks, nine for the Soil Conservation Service, one on the National Park, three for the Division of Grazing, and five for the Reclamation Service. The enrollment included 25,022 Junior and Veteran (World War I), 2,767 Native American enrollees, and 6,820 non-enrollees who worked as camp officers and supervisory employees from Oregon. The total number of individuals who worked in CCC in Oregon (From all States) 1933 through 1942 was 86,775.
These men built 276 fire lookout towers and houses, 1,317 bridges (of all types), planted 49,351,000 trees, spent 681,048 man-days fighting forest fires, did tree insect and pest control on 1,100,655 acres, and did rodent and predator control work on an additional 1,657,815 acres. The total expenditure for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Oregon was $87,734,444 of which only $6,356,036 was sent home as allotments, and pumped directly into the National economy.
The Civilian Conservation Corps in the United States during the Great Depression furnished 3,450,766 jobs for unemployed men. There were a total of 4,500 CCC camps with an average of 1,643 camps operating at any given time. In reforestation, 2,356,000,000 trees were planted, 126,000 miles of road and trail built,89,000 miles of telephone line constructed, 6,459,000 man-days spent fighting forest fires, 6,660,000 man-days spent building erosion control and check dams, and 21,000,000 acres rehabilitated from disease and insect infested land.
With the advent of the United States entry into World War II, CCC enrollees formed a cadre of physically fit, tough minded young men to serve in the armed forces. The CCC enrollees were given military longevity benefits and retirement credit for their prior service to the Nation.